Meet This Year's Inspiring Point Foundation Scholars
BY Sunnivie Brydum
June 20 2014 5:30 AM ET
Crys O’Grady was born in southern New Jersey and entered the New Jersey foster care system at the age of 13. Her experience with the child welfare system exposed her to instances in which government agencies can perpetuate racial, sexual, socio-economic, and gender inequality. While she was in foster care, she became dedicated to the pursuit of social justice through public service. Crys struggled to come out as a lesbian in foster homes that placed a heavy emphasis on religion. In 2008, she left New Jersey to start her undergraduate career at Stanford University.
At Stanford, Crys studied sociology with a focus in poverty and inequality. Despite having an active LGBTQ-Q community on campus, she felt that the issues surrounding the intersection of poverty, race, and the expression of sexual identity were not being explored. As a student, she served as a research assistant for the Lucille Packard Children’s hospital on a study on how child abuse affects brain development. She began to use her personal experience and education to advocate on a national scale for current and former foster youth. In 2011, she was an intern for FosterClub, a national advocacy organization for youth in care, and contributed to working groups and panels that developed LGBTQ-Q awareness materials and trainings for foster parents and social workers. LGBTQ-Q youth are disproportionately affected by child welfare systems and often face unique traumatic experiences in foster and group home placements.
After graduating from Stanford, Crys was the policy coordinator for the California Youth Connection (CYC). CYC is an advocacy organization for current and former foster youth focused on incorporating youth input into future legislative and policy reform. As a law student at the University of Washington, she hopes to pursue a career in policy and legal advocacy for LGBTQ-Q youth.
Emmett Patterson told his mother (an ER nurse), and his father (a paramedic), that he would never end up in the health care field as they did. However, after coming out as trans, Emmett experienced barriers to accessing affirming and safe health care services. He realized that the field of health care was exactly where he needed to be.
Born and raised in Washington, Pa., a conservative area outside of Pittsburgh, Emmett’s process of identity exploration was not welcomed by his community. Experiencing discrimination, first as a queer woman and then as a queer trans man, Emmett committed himself to advocating and educating his community. During his senior year in high school, Emmett was nationally recognized as GLSEN’s 2011 Student Advocate of the Year for founding the first public school GSA in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Emmett studies Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Public Health, with a focus LGBTQIA access to health care, health disparities, and reproductive justice at American University in Washington, D.C. As a campus leader, he served as codirector for AU’s Trans* Advocacy Project. He has worked at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Center for American Progress. In every aspect of his work and activism, Emmett stresses the need for LGBTQIA-inclusive health care and how health disparities can impact our communities' life outcomes.
Kyle Ranieri was born in Gallup, New Mexico, but spent the majority of his childhood growing up in Lansing, Mich. He very quickly observed large cultural differences between the two places and was often exposed to poverty and other social problems. With a devoted mindset to counter these ubiquitous problems, Kyle has always maintained a high degree of community involvement. In 2012, Kyle gained his first experience in community organizing when he became an Organizing Fellow and Director of LGBTQ Outreach with Organizing for America, part of the campaign to re-elect President Obama. In this position, he found his place within the LGBTQ community as a social advocate and has since continued this role, including work with Equality Michigan. Kyle helped found his high school's Gay-Straight Alliance and fostered it to become a leading LGBTQ activism group within the local community through pride parades, educational campaigns, and fundraisers. As president of the GSA, he successfully proposed and changed the school board policy to be LGBTQ-inclusive and was asked to speak before the local township's Board of Trustees regarding their LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance which then successfully passed. Kyle attends Yale College and studies Global Affairs with plans to enter the field of international human rights law.
Jacob grew up in Parsippany, New Jersey with his loving parents, brother, and dog. As a child, Jacob discovered his love of music and began playing classical piano and trumpet at age 9. In high school, he was a passionate member of the Parsippany High School Band.
Jacob made headlines when a video of him publicly coming out on January 18, 2013, as a “LGBT” teen in front of more than 300 classmates went viral with over 2,000,000 views. As a result, Jacob received national attention via interviews with Thomas Roberts on MSNBC, Anderson Cooper, Joy Behar, Don Lemon on CNN, as well as numerous radio and print interviews. Jacob has been working with groups such as GLAAD and Garden State Equality to become a national spokesperson for LGBT youth. He devoted much time and effort to the successful campaign in NJ to ban sexual orientation change efforts, and he strives to help ban SOCE in all 50 states.
A student at the University of Miami, in Florida, Jacob is pursuing Communication Studies with a concentration in Public Advocacy with academic minors in Music, Political Science, and LGBTQ Studies. He is very active with UMiami’s undergraduate LGBTQ organization, SpectrUM, and works hard to improve student life on and off campus.